Winter Europe Backpacking
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Sep 15, 2013 2:49 AM Last Post By: rogg
Oct 14, 2012 2:56 PM
Winter Europe BackpackingHey guys!
I had a few questions and was hoping that any of you would share your kind tips and advice :)
I will be backpacking across Europe from early January - early May (5 months).
- Starting out in Greece and making my way around Western Europe, and some northern parts, such as, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland.
- There will be tons of walking/hiking involved, and staying in hostels for most of my travel time.
- I will not be doing any outside camping
- Since the long period of backpacking i have been researching packs and equipment that would be best, as well as, searching nearby camping and backpacking stores for items.
I know since it is winter time, it will be cold in most parts of Europe and I tend to get cold easy.
I'm not sure of what pack to get because of my long expedition, and I want to be able to travel with ease.
- Pack recommendations (size w/ dimensions best for travel in liter measurements)
- Waterproof hiking boot/shoe recommendations
- ANY miscellaneous items needed??? (plug converters?, first aid?, etc???)
I have searched tons of websites, forums, stores, and have purchased lonelyplanet books, but would LOVE to hear from people directly that have trekked for the same period of time in the same months. :))
With the Schengen Area...I want to spend most of my time there, but do I really have to leave after 90 days? Can I leave and come back? I'm leaving out of Amsterdam in May, so do I need to spend 2 months in UK or Ireland to allow myself time to go to Amsterdam and fly back?
Eurail Pass - when reading about it, i have the impression that I must select up to 5 countries only that are connected to each other by railway or boat? I would like to travel to more than 5 and will make the investment in the pass, but want to see if I just am misreading the information...
Thank you for all your help!!
If over the phone works better, please let me know!~
Edited by: dominicbrown
Edited by: dominicbrown
Oct 15, 2012 5:55 AM
1Firstly in the 5 months you are in Europe you can spend 90 days (so 3 months) in the Schengen area, it doesn't matter how many times you leave and return you are only allowed a total of 90 days. Therefore you will have to spend 2 months outside of the Schengen area. Personally I would not see that as a problem as I find the Balkans the most interesting part of Europe anyway.
Your main issue will be the temperature for trekking at that time of year. Where do you plan to trek? I guess Greece and Southern Spain would be your best places early on in the year, but even here there is likely to be heavy snow at high altitudes. Are you equipped and experienced for this?
My honest advice would be to start your trip at the start of May for 5 months if hiking is a priority in Europe, can you put it off until then?
As far as transport is concerned rail passes aren't usually the best idea, it is often best to use budget airlines in Europe, as well as trains and buses.
Oct 15, 2012 5:59 AM
2You don't say where you're from or what passport you travel with. Can we assume then that you're American?
Oct 15, 2012 10:37 PM
3Something I learnt recently is that Greece has great ski fields. That does not bode well for trekking in January. Crete might be possible but you'd have to do more research.
There are some great hikes in Scotland. It's worth going out to some of the islands and some walks. I spent a week on Harris and Lewis and felt like I was the only person in the world for much of the time.
People will probably have advice about which hiking boot brand is best, but for me, its the one that fits you best. You need a boot rather than a shoe for support and while waterproof is nice, there's this big hole at the top of each shoe that lets the water in so I've never been overly fussed on that. Go to a hiking shop and explain what you want and your price range. They should be able to recommend the best options.
If you are going to be spending a lot of time walking, then you will want to travel light. It is surprising how little you actually need. You should get a small pack (30 litres maybe??) and then figure out what you can fit. A good thing to do is to pack everything (including your boots) in the pack before you go. Then take out what you plan to wear on the plane.
Oct 17, 2012 7:28 AM
4With midweight hiking pants, long underwear (merino is probably the best, but rather expensive), several layers to combine, and add in "extreme cold", and a good, top and bottom waterproof layer, you can confront many kind of conditions.
Hiking on the Atlantic and Mediterranean sides of Europe can be done in winter without main trouble, but as soon as you get some atlitude it's another matter;
Still, there are thousands of possibilities...
Oct 17, 2012 11:15 AM
5First put together the kit you are likely to need, THEN look for a pack where it will fit, not the other way around... Packing light you should be able to keep the weight below 10 kg = about 40 liter pack. If you have never done this before you are likely to end up with a 25 kg 80 liter pack, but you will learn...
During January-May you can only do low altitude hiking even in Southern Europe, for example all higher level routes in the Alps open in late July, and the mountain lodges also open not earlier than mid-June. In Scandinavia trekking is also possible only in June-July, at least in the best (northern) parts.
Oct 21, 2012 9:30 AM
6unfortunately, some of the best hiking europe has to offer is often inaccessible or impossible due to snow, closed parks and unavailable accommodations and lack of sufficient travel options. surely, you've taken these into consideration.
- liguria in northern italy, portofino, sestri levante, cinque terre, etc all have wonderful hikes...but is virtually dead in the winter and is still recovering from the massive flood damage.
- the dolomites of northern italy, alta badia, corvara, etc again have beautiful hikes, but it's all covered in snow
- ben nevis in ft william, scotland - rigorous hike, beautiful views, but impossible to do in the winter, too much snow...sometimes even in the early/mid summer.
- camino de santiago, spain - hostels, albergues almost all closed until april/may at this point.
- alpujarras and the sierra nevada of southern spain could be an option, as could greece...
...but if i were you, i'd focus on using the weather and time period to your advantage - go skiing in northern italy or spend time in switzerland instead.
also, if you're planning to hike/walk...winter really isn't the time to do so in europe, especially if you want to go to ireland, sweden, scotland, etc. spend more time in southern europe (sicily, andalusia, greece), if that's your focus...but honestly, they don't compare to the many wonderful hikes, mountains and walks in northern italy, northern spain and scotland to attempt in the winter, which are best saved for the summer. go skiing instead.
Nov 7, 2012 12:11 AM
7All of this is great information, and exactly what I need! :)
I am American and will be traveling abroad for the first time and trying to do as much research as I can.
I have purchased many of the basics that you friendly folks have listed.
The major parts that remain are boots, pack, gloves, beanie, scarf, and a few minor additions.
Currently I am looking for a camera, and am on a limited budget, but really want great pictures while I am traveling.
I am thinking of a DSLR, but they seem that they are quite bulky, but will provide great picture quality.
I've searched reviews, and travel blogs with recommendations, but have yet to find one I prefer.
Any helpful comments in this area?
**Also, with rain and snow I have base layers (top and bottom wool), primaloft jacket, and waterproof softshell.
DO I need any other rain gear???
Nov 9, 2012 5:08 AM
9Just questioning whether your tour planning is that smart since you will follow winter... early May for example. Sweden and Scottland will be cooler, Greece for example will be pretty nice already.
In terms of camera. A DSLR would be very heavy, but you might want to check out the new Canon compact models. I got one for 350 € and the ISO is that high that even indoor pictures turn out to be fantastic. Cheaper and lighter as a DSLR which will either be very expensive or very heavy and expensive since you need to carry equipment.
Regarding rain and snow - personally I would carry an umbrella. No joke. Always helpful.
Beanie and scarf I would go for one of those more pricey Goretex inlay thingies. They will not get let you get wet :)
Edited by: MissKellyMojo
Edited by: MissKellyMojo
Sep 15, 2013 2:49 AM
10Is it going to be cold? In a word - yes. You should pack accordingly. That being said, you have never really experienced Europe until you have seen it blanketed in snow. This is particularly true for the northern countries. If you need a quick warm up, you can head to the south of Spain and Portugal where things tend to stay pretty warm.
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